Education Blog

Juggling Jargon, by Marieke

British schools and universities are teeming with curious words and phrases that have emerged and developed over hundreds of years. In case you are struggling to find the ‘plodge’ or wondering who a ‘beak’ is, here is a little jargon glossary to give you a helping hand…

ABRACADABRA: A magic word of course, but also the name of Eton’s academic timetable.Eton College

BEAK: At Marlborough, Eton, Charterhouse and Harrow a ‘beak’ is a teacher.

BEDDER: Lucky students at Oxford and Cambridge have wonderful ‘bedders’ who clean their bedrooms.

BILL: Not what you ask for at the end of a meal, but the register at Harrow. However at Eton, if you are ‘on the bill’ you have been misbehaving and about to be punished by the Master!

BLUERS & GRAYERS: What students at Harrow call their school uniform (blue blazers, grey trousers…)

BOATIE: If you are a brave rower who is up for early morning training then this is what you would call yourself although if you row at Eton then you are a ‘Wet Bob’.

BUMPS: It sounds like an itchy rash, but is in fact a type of rowing race.

BUTTERY: You would find butter in the buttery but lots of other food as well; this is where many students eat and buy food.

DORMIE: Heard of a roommate? Well a dormie is the same thing really as they will share a ‘dorm’ with you.

GATION: If you’ve been naughty at Marlborough you’ll be ‘gated’ and confined to your boarding house, whereas if you misbehave at Eton you’ll be given a ‘rip’.

GYP ROOM: ‘Gyp’ was the name once given to servants who worked for students at Cambridge but now this is what the basic kitchens in student accommodation are called.

HASH: Nothing illegal, merely a lesson at Charterhouse.

MAY WEEK: Confusingly this is not in May but in June and is when Cambridge students have a week of parties to celebrate the end of examinations.

PLODGE: This is the abbreviation for ‘porters lodge’ at Oxford and Cambridge.

POP: Both a genre of music and a fizzy drink of course, but also the school prefects at Eton.

PREP: Many British teachers will set you ‘prep’ instead of ‘homework’

SHELL: Not found in the sea according to Marlborough students, this is in fact the name for a group of Year Nine students. They refer to their Year 10s as ‘remove’ and Year 11s as ‘hundred’.

TRASHING: When Oxford students who have finished their finals are covered in all manners of things from food and champagne to glitter and gunk!


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